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Maggie L. Walker: Breaking Down Barriers In Banking

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A legendary businesswoman and civil rights activist, Maggie Lena Walker is often overlooked in the ranks of civil rights leaders. 

Much of her vision was formed as a lifelong member of the Independent Order of St. Luke, a fraternal organization that performed a range of social services in Richmond Virginia. 

She ascended to the leadership role of the local organization where she brought it from the brink of bankruptcy 1n 1899 to a 100,000 member order with lodges in 4 states by the mid-1920s.

The Order of St. Lukes was a springboard for several of Walker's achievements. In efforts to uplift the African American community and African American women, in particular, she launched a newspaper, Saint Luke Herald, a department store, St. Luke Emporium, and subsequently, the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank.

Maggie L. Walker contributed her leadership skill and resources to countless organizations, including schools and civic groups including the National Association Colored Women and the NAACP. 

She believed in everyone's capacity to give, “there are few of us who can give much; but there are thousands upon thousands who can give little, and the combining of the mites will produce the much, so necessary to success.”

Images used in the video are courtesy of the National Park Service, Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site.

During Women's History Month, TheStreet is celebrating female leadership and milestones on and off Wall Street. Explore these video offerings: The First Female Stock Broker, The First Female President of an Exchange, and The Witch of Wall Street.

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